Students kicked out of high school for speaking Ilocano

by Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Aug 06 2013 11:36 PM | Updated as of Aug 07 2013 08:54 AM

Students traumatized, depressed

MANILA - The Department of Education (DepEd) will investigate the expulsion of three high school students after they were heard speaking in Ilocano, which is a a no-no in a school in Laoag, Ilocos Norte.

In a phone interview, Assistant Education Secretary for Legal and Legislative Affairs Tonisito M.C. Umali told ABS-CBNnews.com: “We would definitely look into this incident. We will act on this matter and come up with a report after we have investigated.”

Umali took note of the expulsion of three students of the Saviour’s Christian Academy (SCA) in Laoag already near the middle of the school year.

Blogger writes about case

Laoag-based professor and political analyst Herdy Yumul first wrote about the case in his blog riknakem.net.

In his blog, Yumul said three Grade 8 students--Kleinee Bautista, Carl Abadilla, and another student, known only as Samboy--were expelled from school after SCA President and Reverend Brian Shah heard that they spoke in Ilocano.

The school has an English-speaking policy, which means students, parents and even teachers, are barred from speaking other languages – even Ilocano – inside the campus.

ABS-CBNnews.com was furnished a copy of the letter signed by Principal Cristeta Pedro. The letter reads: “After you have been warned by Pastor Brian Shah not to speak Iloko, you still continued to defy his order.”


The school’s handbook prescribes that “speaking the vernacular inside the campus” shall only be reprimanded.

Due process

In a separate interview with ABS-CBNnews.com, Lamar Abadilla, mother of one of the students, said they were not given due process when her son Carl and the two others were expelled from school.

“Last Wednesday (July 31), we were called by the principal at around 6:00 a.m. asking me and my husband to report to school for an alleged offense done by my son,” Abadilla said.

Abadilla, who works as a court stenographer, said she had to rush to the school even if there was a case she had to attend to at 8:00 a.m. The principal allegedly said she had to comply “because the pastor [Reverend Brian Shah] said so.”

When she saw her son, she asked him what he had done and her son said, "wala naman Ma.’”

Abadilla said she learned of the supposed violation when she went to school. The principal faced them with a memo “suggesting” they look for another school for Carl.

The Abadilla family was supposed to write a letter to the pastor to say sorry for Carl’s “indiscretion,” but was already told that the decision by Shah was already final.

Bad words

Abadilla admitted her son Carl was involved in another incident in school, but she believes this is not related to the case.

She said Carl said “bad words” to his classmates after his project, which was already due, was supposedly taken by another student. She said her son uttered bad words because of the heat of the moment.

Abadilla said Carl reported this incident to the principal’s office, but it was Carl and his two other Grade 8 classmates who got punished.

She believes this incident is not related to her son's expulsion and alleged that “even the pastor utters curse words."

Bullying

Carl was a student at SCA for more than a month. His mother said she transferred him there after he was allegedly bullied at the St. Mary’s Seminary.

“They even had big posters [at Savior’s] saying bullying is not allowed. But it was the president who had bullied Carl,” she said.

Bautista, another expelled student, was also at the receiving end of Shah’s displeasure.

In Yumul’s blog, Kleinee recounted what Shah told him when he was ordered expelled. “You are not respecting my school…You want me throw my cell phone at you,” Shah allegedly told Kleinee.

In a separate interview with ABS-CBNnews.com, Kleinee’s mother, Evelyn Bautista, asked not to comment further, saying they are looking at other means to resolve the issue.

She said, however, that the school rules only dictate a simple reprimand for students uttering other languages inside the campus. “They were only asked before to write a 100-word essay, promising not to speak other languages.”

The parents knew, from the very beginning, about this rule and thought this could help in the shaping of their children’s education. Abadilla said, “I want [Carl] to learn also, but we did not expect this harsh punishment.”

Both said Kleinee and Carl have been traumatized and depressed.

The third student, named only as Samboy, could not be reached. His parents are supposedly working at the Saviour’s Christian Academy.

“My son is hurting. He doesn’t want to be transferred,” Bautista said of Kleinee.

She said Kleinee went back this week to the SCA and was warmly welcomed by his classmates. “They were telling him that he has their support.”

Abadilla said another school, Divine Word College of Laoag, has accepted Carl even if school has long started. “But he is suffering from self-pity, having been bullied from one school to another.”

She added it's not just the children who are suffering, but the parents who have to cough up money again for their kids’ enrolment.

“It’s another burden, we will spend again for uniforms, books. There’s also [Carl’s] humiliation and stress,” Abadilla lamented.

Asked if they have sought another audience with Shah, she said: “He doesn’t want to anymore. He said he’s busy.”

ABS-CBNnews.com called the SCA on Tuesday afternoon, but no one was answering the phone.